Gig work is precarious, regardless of the country

The life of delivery drivers in major US cities is dangerous, surprisingly expensive, and for the most part only possible because the app-based workers support one another. But a new series of editorials from Rest of World shows that the experiences of US-based gig workers aren’t unique – it’s difficult to make a living from indifferent platforms no matter what country you’re in.

The Rest of World overview is based on a survey of more than 4,000 gig workers around the world. The results of the publication are extensive – there is a lot to study from almost every angle imaginable – but the similarities between workers in different countries are striking:

Many [workers] – more than 60% – stated that they were financially satisfied. At the same time, however, 62% also stated that they were often anxious and anxious at work, fear of accidents, assaults, illness or simply not earning enough money to cover their costs. More than two-thirds of the workers surveyed by Rest of World said they would want to quit within a year. More than a quarter said they wanted to quit within a month.

These parallels became apparent in another aspect of the platform work that the series analyzes: the treatment of women in the gig economy. Rest of the world found that the historically marginalized status of women in traditional economies has been replicated on apps and platforms. The Rest of World survey found women worked fewer hours – and many had nursing duties in addition to gig work. They also worked in lower-paying gigs and “earned less overall … than their male counterparts”.

The gagging, kudzu-vine-like spread of the gig economy is largely possible due to massive sums of money from mutual funds and sometimes other platform companies. Individual profiles in the series also highlight the reach: a doctor who works on a telemedicine app in India, a delivery worker who deals with back pain in South Korea, and more. There is too much to possibly summarize in one place, which is one more reason why you should check out the entire Rest of World series here.